Monday, February 27, 2006

The year of knitting dangerously.....

I've never been one to follow the crowd. In high school, when mini skirts were popular (and I had the legs to wear them) I wore midi-skirts. If someone wrote that AB beads were hard to manage, I used them everywhere, and somehow made them work. So the popular wisdom that painted/multi yarns were terrible for patterned/lace knitting didn't make much of an impression. I've been told that I have a unique and "exciting" color sense. I think that means I take color risks, with improbable combinations, and somehow they work. Which is why I have a beaded ornament collection that includes several brown ornaments. (Or that my work is weird and the commentators don't have any idea what to say!) My favorite book on color is one by Margie Deeb (title lost in the cavern of my head). It specifically addresses beads and color. The astute reader will most certainly remind me of the fact that beads and fiber are really (REALLY) different mediums!! So far, though, I've played with fiber fire, and it's worked out really well. At least I've been pretty happy.

Example #1

This sock for example .... yeah, yeah, feather and fan lace, Socks that Rock Carbon, colorway disguises the lace pattern, but, actually, I think the colorway makes the lace pop. Maybe you don't think so. Well, that's OK. I don't think I'll be losing any sleep over it, and I doubt that you'll be losing sleep either over a misguided knitter in Central PA.

But now we come to this........

It is the Cozy pattern from Knitty. My original inclination was to use Elsbeth Lavold wool/silk. But during the Super Bowl sale at my LYS, I succumbed to cotton. They didn't have enough of the color I liked the best, but it was 50% off, so I chose the multi pictured. Yeah, same sad story. So I forged ahead this past weekend and began Cozy. After two or three repeats, I can honestly say, I don't like the pattern with the colors, the drape is too stiff. Wait, what am I saying--there is no drape?! It is very stiff and it makes me tired knitting it. (I usually have no problems with cotton, so I don't think it's the fiber.) So what say you? Should I forge ahead or frog and find a project better suited to 800 yards of cotton yarn. Which begs the question does anyone have any project suggestions for said, stiffish, sorta splitty, cotton?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Thank Goodness they're almost over.....

....... yeah, the olympics I mean. I know I'm in the minority here (or maybe not based on ratings) but I find them extremely hard to watch. NBC, who is broadcasting most of the events in prime time here in the US, long after we've heard the results, seems to think that everyone has the attention span of a flea--or someone who watches MTV. They show the top three skeleton competitors, then the top three snowboarders, then back to skeleton or the the guy on the Zamboni, or worse curling, a niche sport for sure. Hey, NBC, how about this. Pick an event, show us ALL the folks who compete, that way we may even cultivate an appreciation for the sport. We might even be able to see why someone didn't get good scores verses someone who did. How about that? Oh, yeah, and in between there are 10 minutes of commercials, which makes it convenient if I want to do the laundry while I'm "watching".

To add insult to injury, the other networks are playing up their "reality" (term used loosely) crap (to scarf up ratings) and not showing the few programs I do watch, like House. Someone try and tell me that watching bad entertainers crash and burn is better than House? Go ahead and try.

I'm sure you'll have figured out that I'm not a reality show fan. I've only watched one episode, one time. That was the infamous first Survivor when some idiot was walking around in his birthday suit because it was his birthday. I was away at a conference and killing time until I could call home. I had the TV on in the hotel room. I haven't watched a "reality" show since. Strangely, I used to be a big fan of Burnett's Eco-Challenge Adventure Race. Which I now realize was a reality show in and of itself. The difference is that there is no "voting". The race teams made it or didn't. It was painful, grueling, and sometimes the unexpected happened.

So the good news is that I've found other things to do, like go to a Canadian Brass concert. (See... not having Olympic knitting on my mind I actually get to do enjoyable things.) If you've never heard this group, and have the opportunity, do!! You will not be disappointed. They are a chamber group, but play all types and styles of music. And they're funny and entertaining to boot. How does one get to be an accomplished musician AND entertaining and funny? It just doesn't seem fair, does it?

De rigeur artsey stuff. I'm on the last few rounds of my third and hopefully, final for awhile, Kitty Pi Bed. I await a swift and ball winder that I finally broke down and purchased. I realized that I had something like 15 skeins of yarn that needed to be wound to use and I couldn't face it. It seemed to take forever to wind my "Socks that Rock" yarn and there was just a little over 300 yards of it. I just received two more in their new sized skein, so that will take even longer. Better to not make myself crazy, which I nearly did hand winding the 500 yards in Brooks Farm Harmony.

Sorry no pictures today. Maybe next week, when the bed and even possibly some sockies are finished. And I'm trying to figure out what gauge of wire (26 or 28) to purchase so I can try some bead knitting and/or crochet with sterling. I've been thinking about it for a long time and mes thinkin' it's time to take the plunge.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Just Sayin'

We temporarily suspend knitting and beading for the following PSA.

I'm a non-smoker. I admit it. I do hate cigarette smoke. (Oddly, I'm more tolerant of cigars and pipes, go figure.)

When it comes to personal habits, I lean toward libertarianism. So yeah, this is sort of a contradiction. But the way I see have an absolute right to poison your body, to gunk up your lungs and to stink yourself to high heaven if you want to, but you have no right to do any of those things to me. So until the cigarette makers and smokers can figure out how to inhale the smoke, and keep it in, I'll be fighting for banning smoking just about everywhere the "public" congregates, but particularly indoors.

Why is ths coming up now? Because it's on my mind. We attended a family dinner at a nice restaurant over the weekend. We had a private room. Many of the people in attendance lit up regularly and with impunity, even when dinner was served. I even found an overflowing ashtray on the buffet table!! Bleah!! When the evening was over my hair, my wool jacket and slacks, everything, smelled like I spent the evening in the Elks Local 101 Lodge.....It was not nice.

Food was good, company was fun, but the incessant smoke made it difficult [for me] to enjoy the food and the company.

Is it me? It's OK you can tell me.

Just so you know the bead part of the title is's a photo of a little gem I did some time ago. (The design is not mine, but for the life of me I cannot remember the designers name.) I made two of these and gave them both away. It might be time to make one for ME! And Mom you better still have yours. You better not have given it to Matt.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Heart Day

Can't get interested in the Olympics. They are just so technical and mechanical anymore. I was reading, and figure skating was on and the commentator was saying that the Chinese couple hadn't been home with their families for more than a week or two since they were very young children. They are now in their late teens. They have been training for their entire lives. I suspect that the same is true in Russia, and other more totalitarian governments. Who really wants to live life that way?

Here, in capitalistic countries, it just costs a fortune. Sigh. Perhaps I'm too cynical.

Finished the Odessa! Soaked, blocked and currently drying.

I'm now knitting my FINAL, really, final Kitty Pi Bed. The count stands at three. Not that it isn't an easy knit, and pretty nice if you want to knit and meditate. But really....I never thought that it would be as popular as it turned out to be. This one is for my mom to give as a gift.

I also have a bead bracelet just hanging around waiting to be repaired. But it just languishes.......

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Thank Goodness...It's Over!!

The good guys in the black hats carried the day. My DH can relax until April (NFL Draft), of course in the middle there is March Madness, and he'd rather watch good college basketball than eat, but I digress. The Steelers won. He'd been waiting for 26 years for another Super Bowl, the smile on his face was priceless. It was excellent. Never mind that I could barely watch. I couldn't believe that a team could play so well one week, and be so mediocre the next, but never mind....

If it were any other team, I'd have been taking my Super Bowl nap. Or better yet, perhaps I'd have been able to concentrate, and would not have had to frog my Odessa hat 3 times because I couldn't get the gauge right.

I chose to knit the hat instead of my Feather and Fan socks because I thought I wouldn't be able to concentrate on lace. As I realized after the third just didn't matter. Here's my sock in progress shot.

The pattern is from Socks, Socks, Socks, and is being done with Socks that Rock "Carbon". I thought because the colors are rather "subdued" I'd do something interesting with the pattern. I like the way it's looking so far.

Another Super Bowl Bonus was that Stitch Your Art Out, my local yarn store, had what has become an annual Super Bowl Sunday sale. They open on Sunday and have pretty good yarn (and fabric if you're a quilter) sales. I picked up some Fantasy Naturale on sale for 50% off. Then they have a little contest-- you pick a team to win the Super Bowl and if your team wins you get the yarn (of your own choosing) for one project at 25% off. A pretty good deal. I got 6 skeins of Steadfast Yarns wool in "Carrot Cake"--just love that name. Hoping that some day this will turn into Cinxia from

Friday, February 03, 2006

Yes Virginia, there really is a Stiller Nation....

As I try to dodge all the Terrible Towels, flags, and black (yes, I'm serious) and gold flower arrangements in the house, and decide what food to serve on Sunday--the what ifs are important, (What if the Steelers are way ahead? What if they're not? [Perish the thought] What if the game goes into overtime? [Another perish the thought.] What if we run out of Rolling Rock? etc.....). I've been ruminating about why this is so very important to so many people in Pittsburgh and beyond. You'll see blogs and writings that make the pretense that it isn't all that important. That there are actually 'Burgh residents, all two of them, who can pretend the team(s) doesn't exist. But I can guarantee you that if the symphony were playing, the string section would all be using Terrible Towels for their instruments and game updates would be announced between pieces. They held the curtin on a ballet performance once when a playoff game went into overtime and gave patrons time to rush from the various taverns into their seats after the team won. That is Pittsburgh! If you're ignoring the Steeler hysteria, you're probably in a coma. I saw a notation somewhere that it is the "sacred game of my people", but no, in the 'Burgh it is way more than that.

My husband is a native Pittsburger......and the pride and excitement is just about overwhelming about now. There cannot be anywhere else like Pittsburgh-hard to explain, amazing to experience. Back in August we were sitting on a hillside of St. Vincent's College with, literally, thousands of other people, all dressed in some version of black and gold. Hines Ward had just come to a contract agreement, and was in camp for the first time. It was like he was Bono, fans and media just crowded around him and he took his time, and spoke to nearly everyone. He was on the field at least 30 minutes after the rest of the team had left. That in a nutshell is the portrait of this team. Not a bad egg among'em. (If there is a bad egg, it sure isn't evident.) This group of players epitomizes the city-proud, hard working, low key, community minded. Sometimes the stars align. It is rare.

Another rarity, Myron Cope, the beloved raspy (alternatively called squeeky) voiced color analyst (described recently as a "gnome in a trenchcoat") retired after 35 years. There is no other city on the planet, perhaps ANY planet, that would have embraced his voice and analysis. It is uniquely Pittsburgh. Yoi!

So rather than my words here is a piece that I think explains it better than I ever could.

Steeler Nation


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I Just Couldn't Stop

It happened nearly exactly a year ago.

I fell ill, with a horrible cold, and ended up at home for days. Last year I experimented with constructing a beaded flower brooch, and liked it so much I couldn't stop...... I made, literally, a dozen beaded brooches.

Last week the same thing happened. This time it was a sinus infection that I neglected for over a week before it wore me down. This time I was knitting stuff. It really began when I finished my Clapotis. It is done using Brooks Farm Harmony Yarn, it is superb.

Since I only had a pair of socks in progress, I decided to start a Kitty Pi Bed promised to my sister's cat Trixie (aka Dementia). I had given my sister a Kitty Pi Bed bed for Christmas, and her goofy male cat, Hef, appropriated it, after several kitty "set tos". So poor Dementia was left out in the cold. I started the bed on Thursday, and finished the knitting on Saturday, felted on Sunday, and it's already on it's way to little Dementia.

Does anyone want to give me odds that Hef will want whatever bed Trixie is sleeping in.......? I used three skeins of Brown Sheep Bulky and some eyelash yarn I found at JoAnn's. I only needed to felt it about 15 minutes on very high agitation (towels added) with very hot water. And in case you're wondering, I'm blocking these beds over a 15 inch round hatbox.

Then here is what I'm calling my Sunday Scarf......because I knit it in one Sunday afternoon. The instructions are from the Yarn Harlot (it is the December 13th 2005 posting), and I fell in love with the yarn--2 skeins of 100% wool that looks like velvet, Zitron of Germany, the yarn is called Turmalin. Ummmmm......

Alas, I had to come to work on Monday. Darn......I was beginning to hear my beads calling....